The bill was drafted by Republican state Rep. Page Cortez of Lafayette to end the overused “retire-rehire” provision in state law.
“It’s all about keeping the system sound,” Cortez said. “It was beginning to bled by people taking advantage of that provision.”
The provision was originally designed to bring retired teachers to rural schools where positions can be hard to fill. When the retire-rehire provision was first put into place less than 3,000 teachers took advantage of the offer. Currently there are 7,500 participants and 2,500 of those jobs are not in classrooms.
A small loophole has remained in place in case there is a shortage of teachers in the system. A shortage can be declared if after advertising to fill a position two times there are no candidates. Then the superintendent and personnel director must certify in a report to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that a retire-rehire was necessary.
The new law also limits the retire-rehire provision to grades K-12 classroom teachers.
The definition of classroom teacher is any certified full or part-time educator and also includes any certified and licensed speech therapist, speech pathologist, or audiologist, so shortages in those areas can also be addressed.
Rep Cortez said, “It [the new law] puts it back the way the original law was intended.”
The bill does not prohibit any retiree from coming back to fill any administrative or noncritical teaching position.
“They just have to suspend their retirement pay,” says Cortez. “If they want to collect salary and retirement, too, they can go to work at a private school.”
The new law does not affect school employees currently under retire-rehire.
A provision under the new law says that neither the state nor school system has to pay into the retirement system for any new retire-rehire employees and the employees cannot accrue additional benefits after being rehired.
Cortez predicts that employees are going to choose to keep working until their actual retirement date at age 60.